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Marie Rambert profile of a performer

Updated on March 10, 2015

Cyvia Rambam was on born February 20 1888, Warsaw, Poland, her mother was Russian and her father was a Polish Jew, who changed his surname to Ramberg for political reasons. Growing up in Poland, Rambert developed an interest in Ballet. Although an academically bright student, she was always marked down by school teachers for performing dance movements in class. Rambert was fortunate enough from a young age to see Isadora Duncan, a ballet dancer perform on stage.


Following her involvement in the riots on May Day, her parents persuaded Rambert to move to Paris to live with her aunt and uncle while she studied medicine. After moving to Paris in 1906, Rambert was invited to a party while dancing she happened to met Raymond Duncan. Isadora Duncan’s brother, after noticing her dance the mazurka applauded her. From that moment on Rambert realised her enthusiasm wasn’t in learning about medicine but in ballet dancing. Dropping out of medical school altogether, she studied with Madame Rat at the Paris Opera and later went onto to study with Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, at Dalcroze College. It was with Jaques-Dalcroze that Rambert was introduced to Eurhythmics (a physical form of dance where the body moves to music being played). Studying at college, Rambert first came to the attention of Sergei Diaghilev, a Russian ballet impresario. After seeing her performance in class, Diaghilev invited her to come with him to Berlin to teach rhythmic dancing to the members of the Ballet Russes. In 1913, she decided to accept his offer of teaching and moved to Berlin. Rambert was soon performing in the corps de Ballet, dancing in ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Gizzele’ and ‘Scheherazade‘. She continued touring with Nijinsky and the ballet company until her contract came to and end in 1914. Moving to England in the same year, Rambert studied under Enrico Cecchetti, a ballet teacher. Changing her surname to Rambert to try to sound more elegant, her friends still called her ‘Mim’ for short. Rambert was becoming more focused on ballet, returning to Paris she continued learning ballet from Madame Rat at the Paris Opera.

In 1916 Rambert deciding she wanted to become a ballet teacher she opened her own ballet school in Bedford gardens. Two years later she met and married her husband Ashley Dukes, a playwright, whom she would have two daughters with. Deciding to form her own ballet company in 1926, she named it the Ballet club. Making their first stage debut in the same year at the Mercury theatre, performing Frederick Ashton’s ’Tragedy of Fashion’. The theatre building was renovated before the performance by Rambert’s husband, Duke. Changing its name again to Rambert’s Ballet dancers, and then shortly afterwards it was changed to Ballet Rambert. The ballet school kept the same name until it changed for the last time in 1987. Further ballets were produced at the Mercury theatre ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Coppelia’ and ‘Balanchine's Night Shadow’. Rambert was able to use her experience to help many great dancers and choreographers achieve their full potential. Some of these well-known people were Andre Frederick As Anthony Tud Agnes de Mille. Rambert received the title ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ in 1954, and eight years later she became ‘Dame Order of the British Empire’ in 1962. In 1966, Rambert discovered a young choreographer, Norman Maurice, who‘s talent she helped nurtured. In the same year, Rambert influenced by modern dance in America made a bold decision to change from the ballet to contemporary dance. The changed proved successful in Britain’s modern dance scene, which eventually influenced choreographer Glen Tetley and dancers like Christopher Bruce. In 1979, Rambert started work on Nijinsky’s choreography of ‘The Rite of Spring’. Unfortunately though Rambert never fully completed the restoration of the production, on 12 June 1982, at the age of ninety-four Rambert died in London, England.

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